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Workplace Humor That Won't Get You Fired

As a funny female business speaker, I gotta say-- Corporate America has truly become humor impaired. You know how it is; you’re in a meeting or hanging out in the office chatting with a co-worker. He makes a joke about an STD, which you find absolutely hysterical. And then, PANIC. What if his playful joke offended Susie Q from HR and you’re accused of workplace harassment and then you’ll get fired and your family will starve and you’ll all die!!! All because of this one joke!
As a humorist and corporate speaker, I punch up speeches that aren't going to be performed at a comedy club, but rather, at an 8 AM sobriety meeting. Goodbye swear words, references to God, and nipples. 
Here are the rules for joking in the workplace without getting HR on your… derriere. 
1. Don’t joke about other people’s religion, race, ethnicity, or sexuality. In other words, if your joke begins with, “A Jew, African American, and a gay man walk into a bar…” stop talking ASAP!
2. If somebody sends you a funny video that begins with NSFW— stop watching ASAP! It’s labeled ‘Not Safe For Work’ for a reason. Others can see the Game of Boobs video and will complain.
3. Play it safe and joke about yourself! Everybody else is already doing it, so join in on the self-mocking fun. That’s not a receding hairline – that’s a punch line. Although, careful not to poke fun at your muffin top while standing next to your overweight boss. She just might not appreciate it.
4. Be a "clean comedian." If you want to tell a few jokes while chatting to your coworkers in the break room, do have a collection of clean jokes memorized. That way, you won’t recite the joke you heard last night at the bar… “So there was this stripper and this pole and…”  Be sure to keep your jokes short. People are busy.
5. When you mess up or make a mistake and someone criticizes you, don’t get mad… get funny. How? By validating just how big of a jerk you are. You'll get laughs and keep your job.  A former student of mine recently wrote me that she used this very technique when a client criticized her work: “After reading this report your wrote, I can tell you're a complete idiot.” My student retorted, "Oh my God ('Gosh' in South Carolina), you're so smart! You figured out I was an idiot in just one minute!  It usually takes people three months to figure that out!” The client laughed. Tension gone. Account saved. 
6. But, do have snappy retorts when people say or do stupid things. Sometimes a great punch line is the best defense for an office heckler. For example, if someone is talking to me and staring at my chest, I'm going to say, "Hey buddy, if they talk back you can have them!" Zing! It makes the point without having to make it even weirder. 
(link is external)

47 Tips For Public Speaking

Attending the National Speakers Association 2015 Convention in Washington, D.C. I learned a lot a lot! To be exact - 47 tips on marketing your speech, youtube presence, SEO, and even what kind of camera to buy.
47 Tips on how to have a career as a professional speaker:
1. If you don’t have passion, you will give up. The speakers, entrepreneurs, and businesses that persevere are the ones that keep going when things get tough. -- Vern Harnish
2. Statistics show that our most productive time is when we’re over 50 years old. (I guess not having sex as much gives us time to get things done).
3. Have a short phrase (two to three words) that describes your business – a clear and concise tagline that will make you easily findable on Google. (Note to self – Nobody is looking for “hot whiny girls”). – Heather Lutze
4. Have a “Think Week.” Turn off your wifi, read, reflect, and take some time to think and brainstorm about your business. - Niels Brabandt
5. Write from 5:00-7:00 AM. After you’ve had your Think Week, you’ll be better prepared to focus on solving what is inhibiting your business from growing.
6. Mentor others. We learn when we teach.
7. Leaders are readers. Always be reading a book to improve yourself.
8. When networking, a good conversation starter is, “What’s on your reading list?”
9. Make a list of the top twenty five people you need to know to help further your career and reach out to them.
10. Never eat alone in front of the computer. Use mealtimes to go out and connect with people on your list ala Don Draper.
11. Figure out what makes you an expert in your field and own it. Lead with your strengths, and others will follow.
12. When going to speak for a client – text them a video from the airport about how excited you are to speak to them. They love this!
13. A professional speaker can’t speak to every sector. Figure out who is your target audience and market to them. (I.e. techies, nurses, engineers, bankers, farmers…). 
14. Be conscious of your marketing success/failures— keep a whiteboard in your office and track your daily sales numbers. 
15. Know your Message. If you don’t know it now, keep a journal of the lessons you’ve learned in life that play over and over again— And that’s The Message of You(link is external). (See Number 5 on developing your Heart Story). 
16. Before telling clients what your speaking fee is, get them to tell you about their event. Then, email them with information on what you can do for them with three different pricing options.
17. Have three options for your price offerings: Basic, Deluxe and Premium. Direct them to the sweet spot in the middle.
18. Make the Premium Package crazy expensive. If they want it, but can’t afford it, ask them what element they want from the Premium Package and add a fee to the Deluxe Package. 
19. Create at least five videos per month for your YouTube channel. Make sure to provide plenty of great information for your followers.
20. When making a YouTube video, adjust your voice as if you are speaking to just one person.
21. Your website should contain your core message.
22. Use Google Keyword Planner to figure out how people are searching for your website.
23. Everyone needs a career coach – reach out to an influencer.
24.  Label your images with your keywords (i.e. HealthcareHumorist.jpg) so they have a higher chance of showing up in a Google search.
25. Phrases where only thirty people a month are searching for with low competition are good because they have a high conversion rate.
26. Find out which keywords your competitors are using. That’s right – spy on them.
27. Keywords should be in the first sentence and last sentences of your website, blogs, and bio.
28. Hire people slowly and fire them quickly. 
29. Happiness levels at work increase profitability. 
30. Humor in the workplace increases productivity.
31. Gather the stories of your family. Once they die, the library of your life is closed.
32. The average viewer only spends 36 seconds watching a YouTube video, so your video should have a compelling beginning.
33. But, the first three seconds are most important. Make sure your audience knows what they are going to get out of watching your video. This is your CALL TO ACTION— be sure to remind your viewers to comment, share, and subscribe.
34. Rather than your phone, use this camera(link is external) to record videos as it has great sound and picture. 
35. Always carry a portable tripod(link is external) with you for gigs. 
36. A good marketing strategy is to send out four different emails to see which one gets the best response.
37. When sending out a demo reel, give clients choices: a short, five-minute promo and, if they want to see your entire speech, provide a full one-hour reel.
38. Establish yourself as an expert by hosting online training courses. You can set that up via Udemy(link is external).
39. Use music in your YouTube videos. (MorgueFile.com (link is external)is a great site for copyright-free music). 
40. Bring your camera everywhere— conduct interviews with experts as you meet them and add the videos to your YouTube channel.
41. Always end your YouTube videos with a teaser for your next video.
42. Create title templates using Flixpress(link is external)
43. Video testimonials are essential for business (and remember to always get a release form!)
44. Video proposals are awesome.
45. Prior to speaking, film a YouTube trailer to promote your upcoming speech or program.
46. Be sure to add SEO phrases in the description of every YouTube video (i.e. sales technology speaker).

47. Rather than just providing a YouTube link, upload videos directly to Facebook so it plays instantly— people like that better.

Turning Life’s Messes Into Successes

Yesterday, I went boogie boarding with a friend, my credit cards and all our money tucked into a new, waterproof fanny pack. That’s right a one-piece suit, SPF 30 slathered body and fanny pack – hot!  After catching a fantastic wave and riding it to shore, I discovered the fanny pack hadn’t made it. It was dinner time and I had no money. A few miles from home, we were hungry, sandy, and broke. No Uber for us.
Source: cc-by-2.0
At first I panicked, but as we began our journey home, we stumbled a walkway with gorgeous gardens. Though I’ve lived in Venice Beach for 20 years, I had never known about this incredible street. Some people we ran into told us about their cats, their families, and their lives. Normally, I’m in a rush and this would annoy me. But tonight, I made new friends in the neighborhood that I can borrow stuff from. Then it got even better -- the fancy hot dog stand gave us free samples!  We got thirsty and since it was on 7/11 – 7/11 was giving out free Slushies! Free! What had been a mess turned into a wonderful life affirming adventure. Plus there was extra exercise. In addition to losing money, I lost weight!
As I wrote in my book, “The Message of You,(link is external)” you can’t spell MESSAGE without a MESS. Yet again, I was reminded that when life doesn’t go the way I want it to, there’s often a gift.
A few years ago, while recording my book for Audible, I stumbled over a word and flashed back to the embarrassment of having a speech impediment as a child. I was almost in tears as the director took me aside and told me, “Last week there was somebody very famous here recording his book. The three days it should have taken took him two weeks. Why?  Because he had such a severe speech impediment we had to do it over and over and over and over. That man's name is James Earl Jones.”
I asked, "What?  Darth Vader!  The voice of CNN?  A man who makes a living by his voice can't speak?" 
"Yes, he didn't speak until he was eight. Because of his speaking problem, we kept redoing it until it was perfect.”
I couldn’t believe it.
Then, he said something very wise, "Judy, we're not successful in spite of the messes in our life.  It's because of them.  If you didn't have a problem speaking, you wouldn’t have put so much effort into it and become a professional speaker. You wouldn't have to work so hard." 
He’s right. Think about it. Some of our most successful people overcame difficult beginnings. The reason he created the happiest place on earth was probably because Walt Disney grew up in an alcoholic, abusive home.  Steve Jobs was adopted, disconnected from his family, and created gadgets that connect us all. Anybody notice that Dr. Phil, who wrote the bestselling book on weight loss, looks a little chubby?” I’m guessing his next book will be "Hair Care Tips for Men.” Or am I thinking of Donald Trump?  
OK… a little humor, but the point is if we refuse to let the messes define us, we can use them to our advantage. Your MESSage is in that story of your journey from mess to success.  When you tell THAT story, it’s The Message of You and lets everyone in on the meaning of your life.

Funny… or Bullying?

Comic jokes about female comic for being fat and having only one arm

In his Comedy Central special, Ari Shaffir viciously took on Damienne Merlina, a female comic, for being overweight and unilimbed.  
Here are his “jokes.”
“Her name is Damienne Merlina and she is so annoying… Also, she has one arm… I’m only telling you this because when you see her you’d be like, wait is that her or not? She had the fat smell. To wash under her belly fold, you just can’t get under there. I’m sure the one arm didn’t help.”
Ouch! Do you see any jokes in there? A joke, by definition, is something that makes you laugh. Shaffir’s material is mean spirited and identifies him as a bully, not a standup comic or a standup human being. Good comedy requires punch lines, a premise, a point of view. Ridiculing someone else is…well, best left to the politicians and to Donald Trump, who is now seeing corporate America pull away from him and cancel his contracts. True, we have first amendment rights, but there are consequences for being wrong and cruel.
Recently some established comic – Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher – have complained that colleges and liberals have become too politically correct. In an ESPN interview, Seinfeld said, “College students throw around ‘that's racist/sexist’prejudice without knowing what they're talking about.”
Yes… yada yada – free speech… yada yada – comedy with an edge. But when that edge personally cuts someone, is it still comedy?
Kudo to Damienne for a classy youtube video response. She could have ranted, mirroring his hatred or demand that Comedy Central remove his hateful rant. But, like Monica Lewinsky, she chose to be honest and share what it’s like to be the target of bullying, reminding us to consider what we say about others.
“It’s not OK to attack people based on their size or their physicality. You can be a comic without being super crappy to other people.”
I hope you’ll watch the video -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAl1vO8l9qw(link is external) and share your responses with us. I’ll go first: a standup comic picking on someone with a disability is an older version of the school bully, and older means you should know better.
John Boone/Youtube
Source: John Boone/Youtube
One of the commandments in my book, “The Comedy Bible(link is external)” is to joke fairly and never use comedy to further oppress someone who is already oppressed. Hate crime laws were passed for good reason. They make it illegal to harm someone because of their “immutable characteristics.” That’s legalese for racegender, creed, religion, and disability (and sexual orientation will soon be added). Bottom line – it’s not fair to pick on someone about something they cannot change.
Comedy is meant to entertain. One factor motivating me to become a comic was I wanted to make my older sister, Marsha, laugh. Severe cerebral palsy made it impossible for her to walk, talk, or use her hands. She drooled and couldn’t control it. Sitting in a restaurant with her when we were young, I heard others laugh at her. “What if you’d been born this way?” I wanted to ask them.
We should all remember Don Rickles saying, “They always use the word 'insult' with me, but I don't hurt anybody. I wouldn't be sitting here if I did. I make fun of everybody and exaggerate all our insecurities.”
Ari, you have the right to be mean, but even those of us with only one arm can change the channel when you’re on TV. If we’re turned off, we can turn you off.
Have you seen comedy that you thought was offensive?
Go to JudyCarter.com(link is external) for free MP3’s on how to be funny

The Non-Committal RSVP: Is L.A. A Commitment Free Zone?

Are you having trouble getting people to

commit to showing up?

I’m impressed with the two convicted convicts who escaped from a NY prison. Before you start commenting on the crimes they committed, I know they are horrible and dangerous. Still, I admire their ability to get a plan together and stick with it. Obviously, they are not from LA.

Here in LA, nobody will commit to anything. Elsewhere, people are taking to the streets to protest acts of racism. In LA, you can’t get anyone to protest anything unless you can convince them that they will lose weight and get a movie deal if they march. And even that might not work. 

I have a friend who lives a whole twenty minutes away from me, but I haven’t seen her in two months. Tracking Janet down and trying to get her to schedule a dinner with me is like an episode of True Detective. We play phone tag and when I finally hear her voice, we have to take out our calendars and check dates. There are then four re-bookings. Her excuses:

“Oh, I put it in my calendar wrong.” 

“Oh, that’s when my AA meeting is…” 

“Oh… I have to finish watching Orange Is The New Black…” 

“Oh… you’re there at the restaurant? I thought we said next week?”

What is the problem? Why can’t we RSVP and mean it? People speak English in L.A., but “yes” doesn’t mean what it should. It could mean, “maybe” or “fine unless something better comes along.” People here are as irresponsible as they are on Facebook, promising to attend an event but having no intention of going. I went to a Meetup where seventy people RSVP’d to go on a hike. Only four people came and we had no idea where to hike to because one of the no-shows was the leader!

But, perhaps, this is not just LA. When Donald Trump announced his presidential run, he hired NY actors to get a crowd together. Apparently, people only show up if they’re paid to do so.

I hate to say it, but crazy people seem more reliable. Marshall Applewhite, the 65-year-old leader of the Heaven's Gate group, got his followers to wear purple, castrate and kill themselves. Remember Jim Jones? He persuaded over 900 followers to drink Kool Aid and off themselves… on time. ISIS has whack jobs coming from all over who are volunteering to kill themselves. How come I can’t get a friend to show up for Happy Hour?

Are the only people willing to commit the ones that need to be committed?

So, if those NY convicts can manage to sneak in power tools, inch through a sewer, and hide in the forest together, why can’t my friends show up for brunch?

Or… is it just me? Let me hear from you. Are you having trouble making plans with others?

Judy's Blog

Judy Carter blogs on comedy, storytelling and public speaking techniques, using personal stories and her adventures as a stand-up comic turned motivational public speaker. Her weekly blogs are read by fans of her books, “The Comedy Bible” (Simon and Schuster) and “The Message of You” (St. Martin’s Press), which include comics, speakers, and entrepreneurs. She is also known for teaching the value of humor and storytelling to businesses as a leadership and stress reduction tool.